Our History

We are nestled within the 179 acre Brook Farm. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne summered here. We are also on the site of Camp Andrews, a civil war training grounds, where a cannon from the USS constitution commemorates the 2nd mass infantry.

In 1870, Gottlieb F. Burkhardt, a German immigrant and wealthy Boston brewer, purchased the Brook Farm property, and in 1871 formed a corporation called the "Association of the Evangelical Lutheran Church for Works of Mercy". He did this to provide a temporary home for orphan children and aged, weak and helpless persons, and to establish a cemetery. The cemetery was laid out and officially named Gethsemane Cemetery in March of 1873.

From it's inception, the cemetery has been (and remains) non-sectarian, and has no religious or residential requirements for lot owners and families. Through the end of the 19th century and into the beginning of the 20th, there were many happenings on the property which can be seen in a historical timeline by downloading this PDF document.

In 1953, Ralph Moeller became Business Manager of the cemetery and Assistant Treasurer of the association. In 1956, Gethsemane Cemetery Corporation was formed as a subsidiary with Mr. Moeller as it's Manager, and at this time daily operations of the cemetery were separated from the "Works of Mercy" program.

In the fall of 2002, Alan J. MacKinnon, CCE & current President, formed a non-profit organization and privately purchased the cemetery from the Lutheran Social Services of New England (formerly the Works of Mercy Association). Mr. MacKinnon started his cemetery career at Gethsemane Cemetery in West Roxbury 22 years ago, first as grounds foreman for 5 years, then as general manager for 7 years. He is designated as a Certified Cemetery Executive and a graduate of the International Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association University (the only cemetarian in Boston and one of three in the entire state of Massachusetts) and has served as Secretary/Treasurer on the board of the Massachusetts Cemetery Association.

We are proud members of the following organizations:
International Cemetery, Cremation, and Funeral Association (ICCFA), New England Cemetery Association (NECA) and Massachusetts Cemetery Association (MCA)